We Ask Because We Care

At Dartmouth Health, we want to provide you with the highest level of care. To do this, we need to gather information about all of the people that get care here.

Information such as your race, preferred language to discuss healthcare, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity help us understand your unique health needs and enable us to create a care plan specific to you. This information also helps us better understand the needs of our communities seeking healthcare so we can offer services and programs that are helpful to everyone.

Watch our We Ask Because We Care video.

By sharing your information, you can help us:

  • Provide high-quality patient and family-centered care.
  • Make sure that you and every person gets the best healthcare regardless of race, preferred language, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
  • Identify the needs and services of the communities we serve.
  • Support building a trusting patient-provider relationship.

Frequently asked questions

When will I be asked to share this information?

Patients who are 18 years and older will be able to share/update their information in a number of ways.


  • When you pre-check in for your appointment using the myDH portal, you’ll see questions that you can answer about your race, ethnicity, preferred language for discussing healthcare, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
  • You can also update your information anytime by logging into your myDH account and clicking on “Details About Me.”


  • You may be asked to confirm or update your race, ethnicity, and preferred language to discuss healthcare when you check in for your appointment.

During your appointment

You can update your information with your provider during your appointment. The information will then be updated in your medical chart.

Over the coming months, we will introduce improvements to make it easy for you to update your personal information related to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity through myDH, the kiosks and questionnaires.

Who sees this information?

  • This information will become part of your medical record.
  • Dartmouth Health has a privacy policy that is strictly followed. All patient information is strictly confidential and protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
  • Parents/guardians may have access to information for patients under the age of 18. Our current efforts to improve our information are for patients 18 years and older.

Do I have to answer the questions?

You don’t have to answer these questions if you don’t want to, but we strongly encourage you to do so. Having this information will help Dartmouth Health provide each patient with the best quality care.

I have been a Dartmouth Health patient for years. Don’t you have this information already?

We want to make sure our information is correct. For some people, answers to these questions can change over time.

What does “preferred language to discuss healthcare” mean?

Some people’s primary language is not English. It’s important for us to know what language you feel most comfortable discussing medical and healthcare-related topics in. We will provide professional interpreters at no additional cost so patients and healthcare providers can communicate without difficulty.

What do sexual orientation and gender identity have to do with my health?

Information about your sexual orientation and gender identity helps to:

  • Make sure we are providing respectful care that is responsive to your needs.
  • Support building a trusting patient-provider relationship.
  • Identify the right healthcare services for you, such as cancer screenings (like mammograms or pap smears) or assessments for diseases such as HIV or hepatitis.
  • Identify available resources and supports.
  • Prevent disparity (inequality) in healthcare.

You cannot tell what someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation is by their appearance, the sound of their voice, or based on a gender marker in a medical chart. Collecting Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI), information allows our providers to ensure patients receive the care they need in a positive and compassionate environment, free from assumptions.

What does healthcare disparity (inequality) mean?

Disparity is a difference between groups in the way they access, experience, and receive healthcare. The things that influence healthcare disparities include social, economic, environmental, and other factors.

Why is it important to understand that some people are more affected by health disparity than others?

  • People with the same condition may have differences in their healthcare experiences based on their race, ethnicity, preferred language, gender, sexual orientation, social class, age, education, or location of residence. These differences in experiences do not have to happen.
  • Meeting the different needs of diverse groups of people is important to providing the best level of care possible.
  • Meeting your unique needs is important so that we can provide you with the best care.

I am straight and/or cisgender. Why are you asking me these questions?

We never want to make any assumptions about our patients. The only way to know someone's gender identity or sexual orientation is by asking.

What is the difference between race and ethnicity?

  • Race: The U.S. Census Bureau defines race as a person’s self-identification with one or more social groups. An individual can report as White, Black or African American, Asian, American Indian and Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, or some other race. A person may identify with multiple races.
  • Ethnicity: Ethnicity determines whether a person is of Hispanic origin or not. For this reason, ethnicity is broken out into two categories, Hispanic or Latino and Not Hispanic or Latino. Hispanics may report as any race.

Commonly used terms and definitions


Someone who was assigned one gender at birth and identifies as that same gender.

Gender identity

How a person feels inside about their gender. A person’s sense of their self as male, female, both, neither, or another gender.


Pronouns are words used to refer to someone in the third person, such as he/him/his, she/her/hers, they/them/theirs, or a combination of others. You cannot tell what someone's pronouns are just by their appearance or by the sound of their voice. The only way to know someone's pronouns is by asking them.

Sex assigned at birth

A label a person is given at birth based on medical factors such as hormones, chromosomes, and genitals.

Sexual orientation

The sexual, emotional, and romantic attraction an individual has for another person.

  • Heterosexual (straight) describes women who are mainly attracted to men and men who are mainly attracted to women.
  • Gay describes people who are mainly attracted to the same gender as themselves, that is, men who are mainly attracted to men, and women who are mainly attracted to women.
  • Lesbian describes women who are mainly attracted to other women.
  • Bisexual describes people who are attracted to two or more genders.


A person whose gender identity and sex assigned at birth do not align.

  • Someone who was assigned female at birth and identifies as male is a transgender male.
  • Someone who was assigned male at birth and identifies as female is a transgender female.